Monthly Archives: May 2018


Search the Race for Life website for information on how your entry fee will be spent and any information is difficult to find.

In a previous post we suggested that this may be because Cancer Research UK would prefer you to think some of your entry fee goes to research into cancer rather than share the truth; which is that none of the entry fee funds such research.

And now, in reply to a Race 4 Truth tweet (see below), the Race for Life have been forced to concede that we were correct, not a single penny of the entry fee for the event goes towards research.

We are seeking clarification of the second point their tweet made, stating that all of the money raised by their supporters goes directly to ground breaking and life saving research.

However, again, the Race for Life website carries nothing to support this statement and, historically, they have claimed that sponsorship raised goes to Cancer Research UK leading to questions as to what percentage actually finds its way to funding any research?

When (or if) we receive any clarification on this important matter we will, of course, share it via these pages.

In theRace 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.


On 10th May, Race 4 Truth supporter Pete Brindle emailed Sir Harpal Kumar, the CEO of Cancer Research UK, to express his disappointment at the charity’s refusal to acknowledge Jim Cowan for creating the Race for Life and, as a result, to notify him that he was withdrawing his support. You can read that email here.

Yesterday (29th May), Pete got in touch to let us know that he has received a reply from Kumar. This is what he wrote:

“Dear Mr Brindle,

My apologies for the delay in responding to your email advising us that you are cancelling your regular donation to Cancer Research UK. I’m sorry that you feel this way but pleased that a smaller charity in the same sector will now benefit from your support.

You are quite right that our Race 4 Life event series is significant in both its popularity with our supporters and in the funds raised over the years towards our research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of all types of cancer. However, we do not credit anyone with originating any of our events, but choose instead to focus on making them as successful as possible to fund our life-saving work.

Unfortunately, I am unable to comment specifically about the content of your email concerning Mr Cowan’s involvement, as this is a personal matter between Cancer Research UK and Mr Cowan.

Thank you for the support you have provided to Cancer Research UK to date. It is very much appreciated.

Kind regards

Harpal Kumar

Sir Harpal S Kumar

Chief Executive Officer,

Cancer Research UK”

While we thank Kumar for taking the time to reply to Pete, his response, while disappointing, is not unexpected.

On 18th May, we reported how many different versions Cancer Research UK had for who created the Race for Life (and those were just the ones we could trace).

After years of (not unsurprisingly given they were not telling the truth) being unable to tell a consistent story, we reported that they now appeared to have a policy of reporting that they, “do not credit anyone with originating the event.” That policy has been their consistent line since last year; barring one new (and false) claim from their National Events Manager Annette Quarry earlier this month.

Quarry’s claim aside, after years of being unable to tell a consistent story, it appears Cancer Research UK have decided on a policy of acknowledging no one, over one of giving credit where it is due. But then, giving credit where it is due would mean acknowledging the falsehoods they shared in the past.

We also note the comment that this, “is a personal matter between Cancer Research UK and Mr Cowan.”

They are right. It is VERY personal. Especially when Cancer Research UK are costing Mr Cowan jobs by denying they have ever heard of him, thus bringing his (honest) CV into question. Perhaps Kumar would like to enlighten us as to why?

Sir Harpal Kumar’s response is telling. In refusing to credit anyone with the creation of the Race for Life, he avoids lying about the event’s true origins in the way the charity has done for nearly a quarter of a century. It is worth noting that he chooses not to deny that Jim Cowan created the event. Why not, if previous CRUK yarns were true?

In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.

If, like Pete, you would like to withdraw your support for Cancer Research UK in light of our campaign, please do not stop supporting vital research into cancer via other charities.


How much of each entry fee for the Race for Life goes towards funding actual research into cancer?

100%?  75%?  50%?  25%?

It’s a good question. The Race for Life website doesn’t share this information. In fact finding out is a little like uncovering one of life’s really big secrets.

But why? Surely it can’t be because they would rather people assume that some of their entry fee goes to research rather than let them know it doesn’t?

That’s right, the actual figure from each entry which goes to research into cancer is £0.00.

Yes, you read that right, 0%. Zero.

While the Race for Life’s current website doesn’t disclose this fact anywhere, previously Cancer Research UK did admit to it in the small print.

In 2006, a clause in the small print stated:

“We have to charge an entry fee to cover the organisation of our events and participant communication costs. By charging an entry fee we make sure that every penny of your sponsorship money goes straight to Cancer Research UK*. We do everything in our power to keep costs as low as possible. Here are a few examples of what Cancer Research UK needs to pay for with the entry fee: Barriers and staging; Venue hire; PA system; Toilets; Race numbers; Medals; Marquees; Van Hire; Signage; Postage of entry packs; Data processing; Call centre operators…”

And yet, what this expensive looking list of ‘overheads’ fails to mention is that many venues are provided free of charge by local authorities and other providers (yes, your Council Tax subsidises the event in many areas). It also fails to list the numerous paid positions reliant on the Race for Life for their salaries; and the fact that the event has a number of corporate partners who support it is also conveniently overlooked.

For example, Tesco’s support for the event has recently been valued at £40 million. And still not a single penny of your entry fee supports research into cancer. Are you feeling just a little misled? Just a little like a key piece of information (or two) has been withheld from you?

£40 million! And there are other corporate partners to the event, listed here.

There is more. Re-read that small print clause quoted above. We have marked an asterisk next to another potentially misleading comment. *Note that they do not state that it is so that every penny of your sponsorship goes to fund research into cancer. No, they actually state it is so that, “every penny of your sponsorship money goes straight to Cancer Research UK.”

That is not the same thing as funding research. That is paying for expensive London and regional offices, paying executive salaries (of which the top five combined earn over £1 million p.a.), and subsidising other activities…. How much goes to actual research? We don’t know. An extensive search found no answer and in the absence of any solid facts, of anything unambiguous, how much is anyone’s guess.

But hang on, there is a ‘Where Your Money Goes’ page on the Race for Life website. But, again, it is misleading. It covers only the (unstated) percentage of funds raised which actually go to research into cancer. Not the entry fee. And not that percentage of funds raised which Cancer Research UK don’t seem to disclose. Is it deliberately misleading given none of the entry goes to research, something clearly intimated by omitting any correct information as to where the entry fee actually goes? Only Cancer Research UK can answer that question.

There are local authority employees who carry out lots of local work as part of their job description (your Council Taxes at work again). And let’s not forget the number of unpaid volunteers who support the event every year in good faith, who provide time and service free of charge. Much of the work is done by these volunteers while the entry and a portion of the funds raised off the back of their work contribute to the salaries of others. And some of these volunteers tell some pretty damning stories about the ‘professionals’ involved in the staging of the Race for Life and the resources provided. 

And just to be absolutely sure that something about all of the above isn’t hidden somewhere in the event’s rules, we checked them too. As might have been predicted, there is nothing about where the entry fees go (or don’t go) here either. 

But then, Cancer Research UK have a history of misleading you. They have been misleading everyone as to who created the Race for Life for nearly a quarter of a century. We can only guess as to what else they mislead the public over. 

(For the record, Jim Cowan’s original model for the Race for Life guaranteed a percentage of the entry fee funded research and all funds raised through sponsorship did, along with profits made through merchandising. It is Cancer Research UK who have changed this. Maybe that is what they refer to when they say it wasn’t Jim’s idea?).

Want your money to actually support research into cancer? Click here to see some alternative charities you could support.


Long time Cancer Research supporter Pete Brindle has emailed Sir Harpal Kumar, the Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, to inform him that he is withdrawing his support for the charity after hearing about their persistent lies over the event’s origins.

Pete has given us his permission to share his email, sent on 10th May, in full:

Mr Kumar

I am writing to inform you that as of today (10.05.2018) I have cancelled my direct debit, donating £20 each month to Cancer Research UK. Instead, I shall be donating the same amount to a smaller independent charity in the same sector. My reason for this is plain and simple. Im aware that CRUK organises the ‘Race 4 Life’, a very worthy institution that is now renowned throughout the UK, if not globally, and an institution that has helped increase CRUK’s visibility in the charity sector (I believe CRUK are now the third largest charity in the UK by donation). To date, I believe the race has helped raise just over £500m. 

However, I am also aware that the original organiser and the man responsible for creating the ‘Race 4 Life’ has not received the recognition he deserves. Without the knowledge Jim Cowan brought to your charity, it is arguable that it would have the exposure it has today. Mr Cowan isn’t after public recognition, although I believe his efforts for charity are worthy of such, but your charity’s failure to recognise his contribution is having a detrimental effect on his reputation. Just including his collaboration with yourselves on his CV has seen him miss out on positions because CRUK refuse to acknowledge his contribution. I find it quite disgraceful that a leading charity (as well as some of its previous and current employees) feel the need to ignore his efforts in order to forward their own reputations.

I have made a number of close friends aware of my reason for cancelling my donation to CRUK and they are of the same opinion. I’m sure you’re aware how difficult it is to gain a good reputation and how detrimental poor publicity is to a major charity (Oxfam!). A simple public acknowledgement is all that is required. 

I urge you to put this right. 

Yours sincerely 

Pete Brindle

We now look forward to hearing about the contents of their formal response.

It is important to us to note that Pete is continuing his support for cancer charities, just not Cancer Research UK. We urge others considering withdrawing their support for CRUK to continue to support other cancer charities so that vital research and support continues.

Update (30th May 2018): Sir Harpal Kumar has now replied to Pete’s email. You can read his reply and our reaction to it here.


You can help us to persuade Cancer Research UK to finally recognise Jim Cowan as the creator of the Race for Life.


Use one or more of the following ideas to expose the lies and share the facts:

  • Like, share, follow, tweet and retweet.

Make social media do the leg work. When you see a post or a tweet from us, like it and share it to help us get the facts out there.

Race 4 Truth on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter.

  • Tell friends and family about the Race 4 Truth.

Word of mouth, whether online, by phone, or face to face is still the most effective way to share news about a campaign.

  • Comment on (or tweet to) Cancer Research UK’s and Race for Life’s Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

Direct interaction will force a quicker response and puts them in a position where they have to choose between more lies or admitting to the truth.

Cancer Research UK on Facebook and on Twitter.

Race for Life on Facebook and on Twitter.

  • Tell the media about the Race 4 Truth campaign.

Whether local or national, whether printed, online, radio, or television, Cancer Research UK are far more likely to correct the wrongs of the past if there is a media spotlight on them. Write, email, or engage via social media to get journalists informed.

  • Write to or email Cancer Research UK.

Demand answers as to their history of falsifying the creation of the Race for Life and ask why they are not telling the truth, why they do not give Jim Cowan due credit?

Cancer Research UK Chief Executive:

Write to him at: Sir Harpal S Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, Cancer Research UK, Angel Building, 407 St John Street, London EC1V 4AD.

Email him at: [email protected]

Cancer Research UK National Events Manager:

Write to her at: Annette Quarry, National Events Manager, Cancer Research UK, Angel Building, 407 St John Street, London EC1V 4AD.

Email her at: [email protected]

  • Withdraw your support from Cancer Research UK.

Nothing will get results faster than hitting them in the pocket. Don’t enter the Race for Life, don’t take part in their other events, don’t donate, don’t play their lottery, don’t leave them anything in your will…..don’t support them.

But do continue to support research into cancer by switching your support to other charities:

The Institute of Cancer Research

Worldwide Cancer Research

World Cancer Research Fund

Don’t let dishonesty win.

Support the Race 4 Truth.


Early in 1993, John Cowan was diagnosed with the Prostate Cancer which would eventually take his life. The diagnosis motivated John’s son, Jim, to create a fundraising event to support the fight against cancer.

Through the summer of 1993, he researched what events already existed and searched for a ‘gap in the market’ – a gap big enough that it could be fully exploited to raise significant funds and increase awareness.

Although his starting point was his father’s Prostate Cancer, he ended up creating an event which raised funds for, and raised awareness of, women’s cancers. That event was to be called ‘The Race For Life.’

Jim had already organised a number of different fundraising events for good causes and also organised some road running events.

Using the road running events as a starting point, he identified that women were seriously under-represented in running events, often with fewer than 15% of fields. It occurred to him that, surely, more women must want to run these events but, for some reason, weren’t, So, he decided to discover why not?

He found three key things were preventing women from taking part in road running:

1. The distances were generally considered too long. At the time most events were 5 miles and further. 5km road events were few and far between, 5000m being seen more as a track athlete’s event.

2. The events that were available were not viewed as ‘female friendly.’ The general atmosphere was very male dominated and, it was felt, unwelcoming for women.

3. Existing races were overly competitive, very serious and, put simply, just not fun.

Jim realised that, providing a solution to these issues would combine very well with his desire to create a new fundraising event to support the fight against cancer. That solution was to create a series of 5km runs, open only to women, which focused on fun not on competition. He called his idea, ‘The Race For Life.’

Initially, Jim took his idea to a breast cancer charity which, following consideration, declined the idea having decided it would not work. Then a conversation with a friend at his local athletic club opened the door to making an approach to the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF – Cancer Research UK’s former name). That friend was about to start temping at the charity and promised to find a contact name for Jim to approach.

This she did, and on 5th October 1993 Jim wrote to ICRF’s Events Manager, Jill MacRae (nee Baker), outlining his idea. A meeting was arranged, which then led to Jim organising the very first Race for Life in Battersea Park in 1994.

The rest should be a matter of historical record. However, following the successful launch Jill MacRae decided to falsely claim the idea as her own and ICRF, and later CRUK, have denied the idea was Jim’s, coming up with a range of different stories and whitewashing him from any mention in association with the event.

It is time for Cancer Research UK to do the right thing, stop the lies, and recognise Jim for his amazing creation, one which has benefitted the charity by many hundreds of millions of pounds, opened up running to women, and which changed the fundraising landscape in the UK forever.

And, one which should be a fitting tribute from a son to his deceased father.

Below, a copy of Jim’s original letter proposing the Race for Life to ICRF/CRUK.


Given Cancer Research UK’s continued lies about Jim Cowan and the claim he did not create the Race for Life, even recently costing him a job offer, you would think they would offer a consistent alternative as to where the event started, as to how it was created.

After all, they must have records of the discussions and the meetings which led to the event’s creation? And, given that, surely they paint a consistent story as to the events beginnings?

Well, no. They don’t. But that is the problem with falsehoods, eventually you forget what you claimed and claim something else. And, of course, you have no evidence to support your fiction because it is just that, fiction. No records of discussions, of meetings, of correspondence. Because they don’t exist.

Interested in checking out Cancer Research UK’s false claims, we have done a little research which has exposed a story which keeps changing. There may be more and different claims, but in only one day’s digging, this is what we have uncovered:


In a letter from Jill MacRae, its then National Events Manager, what was then the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) credited Jim Cowan with coming to them with the original idea for the Race for Life. This was the last time they were honest about who created the event.


After severing all ties to Jim Cowan, Jill MacRae started to claim she came up with the Race for Life herself. It would appear that ICRF believed her. She went on to build a career on the false claim.


In an article in the 19th July issue of Athletics Weekly, an ICRF spokesperson claimed that the Race for Life was based on, “a concept from America called Walk for a Cure.”

In the same issue of Athletics Weekly, a letter from Louise Holland, ICRF’s Race for Life Director, stated, “the concept was taken from the Susan Komen Foundation.”


In November of 2013, Jill MacRae contacted Jim Cowan via Linked In and email threatening legal action if he did not stop claiming to have created the Race for Life. Supported by Jane Arnell, Tony Elischer, and Sarah Guthrie (former colleagues of hers at ICRF/CRUK), she claimed they were all “shocked” by Jim’s “misleading claims.” MacRae claimed to have never heard of Jim Cowan and asserted that her colleagues had not either. This 1994 letter from Jill MacRae to Jim Cowan exposes that lie. We will be sharing more evidence that includes correspondence to and from Jill Macrae to support Jim’s position in the coming days and weeks. 

Also in November of 2013, Jill MacRae amended the Race for Life entry on Wikipedia to state; “Race for Life was created by fundraisers Jill MacRae (nee Baker) and Jane Arnell at what was then the Imperial CancerResearch Fund.” At Jim’s request, supported by evidence, Wikipedia amended the page to show the truth, that the creator of the Race for Life was him.

On 12th December, Jim Cowan responded to Jill MacRae’s threats stating; “To say that I am surprised at both your claims and your accusation would be an understatement. Your cynical duplicity in laying claim to the original idea is preposterous and your accusation that my own claims are untrue is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.”

Jim has not heard from MacRae, or her colleagues, since. Why not, we wonder?


Jim Cowan was advised that the website ‘Informed Edinburgh’ had carried an article titled ‘Spotlight on Jill MacRae’ in which she stated; “I created the Race for Life and organised the very first 5K event way back in 1993 (sic), when I was National Events Manager at what is now Cancer Research UK. The article was removed after Jim contacted the website advising them that, “Ms MacRae knows this not to be the case.”


In May 2017 , Nicki Ford from Cancer Research UK stated, “We do not publicly credit anyone with originating the event.”

In September 2017, Cancer Research UK’s Chairman, Prof. Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, stated, “We do not credit anyone with originating the event.”

It would appear that, unable to prove any of the previous claims Cancer Research UK and, primarily, Jill MacRae had made about the creation of the event, the policy was now to simply shut up and claim nothing.


Maybe she didn’t get the memo shared by Ford and Borysiewicz, or maybe it was just time to change the claim again, but this month (May), Cancer Research UK’s current National Events Manager, Annette Quarry, stated that the original pilot was from yet another different source, this time the American Cancer Society.

We now wait with baited breath for the next claim as to the creation of the Race for Life. There are two things we know for sure though:

  1. While CRUK’s story keeps changing, Jim Cowan’s has remained consistent throughout.
  2. While CRUK and their various employees (current and former) have offered no supporting evidence for any of their claims, Jim Cowan has. Race 4 Truth will be sharing more of that evidence over the coming weeks.


We have probably all seen those television advertisements pleading with you to “donate just £2 a month to cancer research.”

The glossy productions tug at the heartstrings and surely only the hardest of hearts would not be moved to being at least tempted to sign up?

But, what the glossy advertisements don’t tell you is that Cancer Research UK need over 18,000 to sign up to donate “just £2 a month” for a year solely to cover the cost of their Chief Executive, one of, if not the, most expensive in the sector.*

And that is without including the cost of making the commercial and of buying the prime time advertising slots!

Please, make sure that when you donate your hard earned money, it is more likely to be used for research into cancer than to pay the grossly inflated salaries at a charity which lies about the origins of its own largest fundraising event (the Race for Life).

How? Choose a different charity which funds and supports research into cancer such as The Institute of Cancer Research, Worldwide Cancer Research, or World Cancer Research Fund

*On-costs calculated using


We are grateful to everyone who supports our campaign but ask that if you decide to stop supporting Cancer Research UK (as some already have) this does not mean you stop funding vital research into finding treatments and cures for cancer.

Most, if not all, of us have been touched by cancer. Indeed, it was the news of the cancer diagnosis which eventually took his father’s life which started Jim Cowan on the path which led to his creating the Race for Life. Jim would give anything to have had more months, more years with his dad and would strongly advocate supporting research into the disease so fewer people have to go through what his father, he, and his family went through.

Fortunately, there are other charities, charities with integrity, funding and carrying out research into treatments and cures for cancer. And the good news is that these charities are already carrying out life changing and life saving research. All they need to continue doing this invaluable work is your support.

So, let’s not make the campaign to get Cancer Research UK to stop the lies about the Race for Life’s origins into one which negatively affects research into the disease.

By all means stop supporting Cancer Research UK, by all means protest their lies and their lack of integrity, but please, continue to support research into cancer through other, more honest charities.

Below are links to three UK based charities funding and conducting research into cancer. If you know of others, please provide details and links by replying to this article:

The Institute of Cancer Research

Worldwide Cancer Research

World Cancer Research Fund